When it comes to losing weight, the primary principle that works is to put your body in a state of calorie deficit. When your caloric intake is lower than what you usually consume, you will be essentially burning fats and, hence losing weight.
However, only a few diets like keto diets follow this concept. Keto diets basically restrict your carbohydrates intake to a minimum of 30 – 50 mg per day. What this essentially does is forces your body towards a state of ketosis.
Once your body is in ketosis, it will burn fat for energy since you have restricted your carbs and caloric intake. Ultimately, this leads towards a gradual weight loss when you stick to keto diets. This means, you will be giving up certain foods that have a high count of carbohydrates.
But, what about salsa – A favorite Mexican sauce of many people around the world. Do you have to give up salsa as well or is salsa keto? Let’s dig into what salsa is and whether or not it is keto to help you make an informed decision regarding your keto diet plan.
What is Salsa?
Salsa is Spanish for sauces. The term salsa refers to all kinds of sauces, however it is specifically used for the popular Mexican sauces. Salsa is used as an ingredient in a wide range of dishes and also as a condiment throughout Mexico.
Ideally, most of the salsas (originating from Mexico) usually have a spicy flavor since hot chili peppers are added in the ingredients. There are over hundreds of different types of sauces, with piquant fruit salsas amongst the most popular and favorite ones.
However, when talking about salsa in the United States, it basically means a Mexican spicy tomato sauce referring to any of the following type of salsas:
- Salsa fresca – freshly made salsa using tomatoes and hot peppers as the primary ingredients.
- Salsa Verde – made with cooked tomatillos. It is served with chilaquiles and enchiladas amongst other dishes.
- Salsa roja – Made from cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic, fresh cilantro/coriander, and onions. It is commonly used across the US and Mexico. Salsa roja is also referred to as red sauce.
- Salsa cruda – Also known as raw sauce, it is basically prepared with chopped tomatoes, chilies, jalapeno, onions, and coriander.
- Chiltomate – Made from tomatoes and chiles as the primary ingredients and is used as a base sauce for a number of dishes. However, the chiles or peppers used in chiltomate may vary across different regions.
Keep in mind, salsa isn’t the same as simple tomato ketchup.
In fact, back in 1991, salsa outsold the simple tomato ketchup in the United States. Since then, it has been a favorite sauce of most of the Americans. Interestingly, the old salsa has evolved into a newer one with new ingredients added to it.
Primarily, tomatoes, tomatillos, and chilies are now used in making salsa, whereas the original ingredients include onions, garlic amongst other spices.
Another reason why salsa is so popular amongst Americans is the fact that salsa is essentially considered a healthy option to add to a balanced diet. This is because they have a rather low number of calories and are almost free from fats.
Moreover, the ingredients used in making salsa also contributes towards the nutritional profile of salsa, by providing Vitamin C, A, potassium, and lycopene from different ingredients like tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro.
Common Uses Of Salsa:
Commonly, salsa is used with the following foods:
- Seafood sews
- Boiled potatoes
- Grilled beef
- Roast chicken
- Served as a dip for tortillas, breads, and tacos.
- Added as a topping for quesadillas, enchiladas, and antojitos
What Is Salsa Made From?
Although there are different types of salsas, but the basic version of salsa is made from the following ingredients:
- Tomatoes (Either fresh or in the form of a tomato paste)
- Chili peppers – Green, serrano, yellow, and Anaheim
- Jalapeno peppers (optional)
- Green bell peppers
- Spices – Black pepper, cilantro, cumin, paprika, oregano, and others
Commercially produced salsa may also have other additives like:
- Vegetable oil
- Calcium chloride
- Xanthium gum
- Guar gum
- Potassium sorbate
- Modified food starch
- Beet powder
- Citric acid
Is Salsa Keto?
In short, yes, salsa is keto. It will not only serve as a means of adding a Mexican touch to your meals but also provide you with certain nutrients including vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost your health.
Moreover, what makes salsa safer for keto diets is the fact that it can easily be made in your home with keto-friendly recipes and however you like it.
Here are some facts about Salsa and the ingredients used in it:
- Salsa is primarily made from tomatoes which is packed with vitamin C and potassium content. Moreover, tomatoes are also a great means of providing your body with fiber content which helps boost your digestive health.
- Salsa will provide you with a rich and luscious flavor without having to compromise on excess salt or sugar content. This is great for people who are looking for a sauce to add to their diets that are conscious about their salt and sugar intake.
- Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants like lycopene. It will help fight off free radicals from your body thus keeping you safe from a number of health complications
Since keto diets basically focus on carb content, let’s look at the carb content of tomatoes and salsa. Technically, tomatoes are considered a fruit. However, despite that, they have a low amount of carbs equating to only 4 grams per half cup serving of fresh tomatoes.
So, basically, if you consume a ¼ cup of salsa, you will only be getting 2 – 3 grams of net carbs depending on the ingredients. As mentioned earlier, salsa can be made at your home which allows for better control over the quantity of ingredients and managing the overall carbs.
Ultimately, this allows you to make salsa even safer on keto diets. But if you’re not interested in making your own salsa, there are certain brands that offer a low carb salsa which is ready to consume.
Ideally most of the salsa recipes only contain about 5.6 grams of carbs per a 100 gram serving. So, even if you consume salsa in large amounts, it will still be under the daily carb limits of keto diets. So, you do not have to worry about salsa putting you out of keto.
Salsa: Nutritional Profile
A 2 tbsp serving or (35.7 grams) of Salsa contains the following nutrients according to the USDA.
Now, let’s look at the nutritional values in a little detail:
A 2-tablespoon serving of salsa contains just as little as 2.4 grams of carbohydrates. But, since salsa basically comprises of carbs, it equates to over 77% of the total calories from salsa.
Salsa contains over 0.6 grams of fiber. Although it might not seem much, but it is still over 2% of your daily requirements based on a 2000 calorie diet. However, since your food intake is restricted on a keto diet, the fiber from salsa will help you meet those daily fiber needs.
There are over 1.36 grams of sugar in a 2 tablespoon serving of salsa. This equates to over 3% of your daily caloric requirements. Considering the sugar values of salsa, it is considered to be on the lower side of the glycemic index.
However, you should remember that the sugar content of salsa depends on your recipe and/or the brand of salsa you opt for. So, you need to go through the product labeling to ensure the sugar amount is not higher or else it will affect your daily carb intake as well.
Salsa has a very small amount of fats. A 2 tablespoon serving of salsa only has 1 gram Since the fat content in salsa is very limited in salsa, this allows you greater flexibility in terms of eating foods with a higher fat content.
Although the protein content in salsa is not complete and lacks essential amino acids, it will still provide you with 0.5 grams of protein per a 2 tbsp serving.
But, then again salsa is only meant to be used as a sauce so regardless of whether it is a complete protein source or not, you can still consume it.
Vitamins and Minerals:
There are multiple vitamins and minerals in salsa, all from the ingredients like tomatoes, spices, peppers, onion etc. used in making salsa. It will provide you with a good number of vitamins and minerals.
The most prominent amongst the nutrients in salsa is lycopene. A 2 tbsp serving of salsa has over a whopping 2250 mcg, which is quite impressive.
Salsa is essentially considered a low-calorie food item. A 2 tbsp serving of salsa has over 12.1 kCal. Since it is significantly lower in calories, it will be a great addition to add to your keto meals without having to worry about raising your caloric intake.
Is Salsa a Good Option for Low-Carb Diets?
Salsa is a good option for low carb diets. The reason behind this is the fact that salsa has a rather lower number of calories and a significantly smaller amount of carbohydrates.
Since you are only allowed a small number of carbohydrates on a keto diet, adding salsa to your low-carb meals will be a great option.
This is because it will not take up much from your daily limit of 30 – 50 mg of carbs per day and you will also have a greater room for choosing foods for your diet.
Keto Friendly Salsa Recipes
There are hundreds of salsa recipes that you can use depending on what you’re aiming for. Here is a simple recipe to get you started:
Basic Keto Salsa Recipe:
- Roma tomatoes (Ripened) – 1 ½ lbs.
- Chopped red onion – ⅓ cup
- Jalapeno pepper (Seeded, chopped) – 1x
- Fresh cilantro (chopped) – ⅓ cup
- Garlic (chopped) – 1 clove
- Lime juice (Must be freshly squeezed) – 3 tablespoons
- Salt (to taste, based on your personal preference) – 1 teaspoon
Step 1 – Use a food processor to mix all of the ingredients. Pulse the food processor for 10 – 20 seconds. (Depending on the texture and intensity you’re looking for, you may pulse it for an additional 15 – 30 seconds)
Step 2 – Extract the sauce from the food processor and store it in an air-tight container. You need to refrigerate it for up to 4 days.
Step 3 – Serve and enjoy with your favorite meals!
- For a rich flavor, always opt for choosing a mix of tomatoes.
- To adjust the spice levels, you can increase the number of jalapenos.
- If you’re opting for a salty flavor, you can add more than a single teaspoon of salt.
- Generally, to enhance the flavors of the salsa ingredients, you can let it sit in the refrigerator for more days.
5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Salsa:
Salsa is a rich source of vitamins, and many minerals. In fact, when you serve fresh salsa, it can also be a means of hydrating and refreshing your body. Here is an insight into some of the health benefits of Salsa.
1. Salsa Is An Excellent Source Of Antioxidants:
Salsa is rich in antioxidants which are essentially required by our bodies to fight free radicals that would otherwise lead towards cancer and other harmful health complications.
By looking at the nutritional profile of salsa, you may have noticed that salsa is rich in the antioxidant referred to as lycopene. It is usually found in tomatoes and can greatly benefit your body in terms of lowering the risks of potential life altering diseases.
2. Salsa Can Help Lower The Risk Of Prostate Cancer:
Another potential benefit of the high amount of lycopene in salsa is the fact that it can help prevent prostate cancer! Yes, you read that correctly! Just by eating salsa as a side sauce, you will essentially be lowering the risk of prostate cancer in your body.
Furthermore, with increased servings of salsa, you will be getting an increased dose of lycopene – thus increasing the chances of preventing prostate cancer entirely.
3. Salsa Can Help In Providing Protection Against Metabolic Syndromes:
Metabolic syndromes usually occur due to oxidative stress in your body. Ideally, the lycopene content in salsa can help balance out the oxidative stress in your body. It will also essentially lower the risks associated with metabolic syndromes such as heart complications and high cholesterol.
4. Can Regulate Your Blood Pressure Levels:
Salsa is a rich source of potassium which is known to have positive effects in terms of lowering and maintain blood pressure levels in your body. Ideally, potassium helps in relaxing your blood vessels. As a result of the relaxed vessels, it regulates your blood pressure.
Keep in mind that potassium regulates your blood pressure by counteracting the sodium content in your body. Due to this, you need to opt for a salsa brand that has a relatively lower amount of sodium or else you will not be able to benefit from the potassium in salsa.
5. Salsa Can Ensure Good Bone Health:
Salsa is a rich source of calcium and magnesium. Both of these minerals play a critical role in terms of improving your overall bone health. So, simply by consuming salsa as part of a balanced diet, you will also be benefiting from good bone health.
Is Salsa keto? Yes, absolutely! Salsa is rich in nutrients including vitamins and minerals. It contains a very small amount of carbs and calories, which makes it perfect for keto diets.
Due to the small amount of carbs, you can either consume it with any of your favorite meals or consume it as a dip sauce for your tacos, fries, and other foods.
Furthermore, due to the limited amount of carbs in salsa, it will not put you out of ketosis even if you consume it more often. When you consume salsa as part of a balanced diet, you will also benefit from good health and a lowered risk of suffering from a number of harmful diseases.
If you want to learn more about keto friendly foods, click on one of the links below: